Want to find out more about how to follow up on promising leads and overcome no-shows? Check out our comprehensive guide.
Jessica True is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a virtual PBX system and modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level
If you’re someone who works in sales, you might be all too familiar with the feeling of being met with silence after interacting with a customer (or a potential one). Even worse, you may have scheduled an appointment only for the prospect to be a no-show.
That isn’t to say the client is completely uninterested in your offering. They probably just canceled because something else came up. But they need an extra nudge to encourage them to meet with you and close the deal.
A follow-up is a crucial step that ensures potential customers remain engaged and interested in your product or service. It involves reaching out to prospects who have shown initial interest but have not yet taken the desired action, such as making a purchase or attending a meeting.
Let’s delve into the importance of follow-ups in sales, when to send follow-up emails, and how they can help you overcome no-shows and maximize sales opportunities.
A follow-up in sales refers to the act of continuing communication with potential customers who have expressed interest in your offering but have not yet made a commitment. There are a plethora of reasons as to why a customer may not want to commit: it could be related to time or budget.
You need a proactive approach to keep prospects engaged, address any concerns or questions they may have, and gently guide them closer to a decision. By initiating follow-ups, you can build rapport, strengthen relationships, and increase the likelihood of the prospect that they show up for your meeting.
Be aware that timing is crucial when it comes to follow-up emails. While there is no universal rule, it is generally advisable to send a follow-up email within 24 to 48 hours after the initial contact. This allows enough time for prospects to process the information and consider their options without feeling overwhelmed or pressured!
Sending the email too soon may come across as pushy, while waiting too long might cause the prospect to lose interest or forget about your offering. It’s important to strike a balance and respect the customer’s decision-making process.
If you’ve arranged a meeting, either in person or via video or phone, send a follow-up in the form of a reminder. You can often do this directly from your calendar tool, and invite the prospect to confirm attendance. The system should send them an automated reminder just before the meeting, too.
The follow-up process in sales typically involves a series of steps that aim to maintain communication, build relationships, and progress the customer towards making a decision or taking a desired action.
The exact process may vary depending on the industry and specific sales approach, but the steps outlined below provide a general framework for an effective follow-up process—which will help you to sell anything from a .ae domain to a video conferencing solution.
The first step involves making the initial connection with a prospect through various means, such as a conference call, email, or in-person meeting. It's important to establish rapport and gather relevant information about the client’s needs and preferences. You can then introduce your product or service and explain how it can greatly benefit them.
After the initial contact, it's important to plan your follow-up strategy. Determine the frequency and mode of follow-up communication, such as emails, phone calls, or meetings, based on the customer’s preferences and the nature of the sales cycle. It’s a good idea to use a scheduling tool if you are juggling multiple prospects.
Now’s the time to put together a personalized follow-up message that addresses the prospect's specific needs, concerns, and interests. You may need to send more than one message to get the prospect over the line, but always ensure you reiterate the value proposition of your offering, provide additional information or resources, and suggest a clear next step.
Consider the appropriate timing for your follow-up efforts. Balance persistence with respect for the client—and the fact that they might not be the one with the final say. They may need to get approval on the sale from elsewhere such as accounting or management. Space out your follow-ups based on the prospect's level of engagement and responsiveness.
Take advantage of various communication channels to connect with your customers and remind them of scheduled appointments. These can include emails, fax from Gmail, phone calls, social media messages, or even in-person meetings. Different people have different preferences, so diversifying your approach increases the chances of getting a response and staying in the prospect’s mind.
Throughout the follow-up process, provide valuable content that educates, informs, or entertains your prospects. This could include industry insights, case studies, success stories, or relevant articles. Sharing valuable content positions you as a trusted advisor and keeps the prospect engaged. You can use automation to schedule regular emails with newsletters or links to other content, and AI tools to personalize the messages based on your data.
Pay attention to any objections or concerns raised by the prospect during the follow-up process. Take the time to understand their reservations and provide tailored solutions or clarifications. Addressing objections helps build trust and confidence in your offer.
Clearly communicate the desired next steps to move the prospect closer to a decision or action. Whether it's scheduling a meeting, attending a product demonstration, or making a purchase, make the process simple and provide clear instructions. Ensure the client understands the benefits of taking the next step.
Even after a prospect becomes a sale or decides not to proceed, maintain the relationship. Regularly check in, provide relevant updates, and offer support. Building strong relationships can lead to repeat business, referrals, and future opportunities.
Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your follow-up process. Analyze metrics such as response rates, call monitoring, conversion rates, and customer feedback. Adjust your approach as necessary based on the insights gained to optimize your follow-up efforts.
Remember, the follow-up process is an ongoing approach. It requires persistence, adaptability, and a customer-centric mindset to nurture relationships, overcome objections, and maximize sales opportunities. Don’t let a missed phone call or a canceled meeting put you off.
So, now you know the sales follow-up process, let’s take a look at some tips for getting it right.
Here are several effective sales follow-up techniques that will make no-shows less likely.
Tailor your follow-up messages to each prospect's specific needs and preferences, using data from your CRM or social listening. Larger businesses with numerous prospects and clients may use automated messaging, but it’s still possible (and essential) to personalize each interaction.
Reference previous conversations or interactions to show that you value their individual situation. Personalization demonstrates your attention to detail and genuine interest in your client’s success, which makes them more likely to speak to you more about the deal.
Follow-up promptly after each interaction or milestone in the sales process. This shows your professionalism and keeps the momentum going. Additionally, maintain consistent communication throughout the sales cycle to stay top of mind without being overbearing.
Check in to see if there’s any more information they need, and offer to meet up to speak through their options if they need it.
Be persistent in your follow-up efforts, but avoid being pushy or aggressive. No one wants to be hit with ten phone calls a day—an irritated prospect can quickly turn into a no-show. Respect the prospect's time, privacy, and decision-making process.
Wherever they are in the world, it’s important to contact them on their terms. Demonstrate your commitment and willingness to assist while allowing them the space they need.
Request feedback from the prospect to gain insights into their experience with your company. This demonstrates your commitment to providing excellent customer service and allows you to address any issues or objections effectively. Plus, you can use the information to improve your interactions with future prospects. Make sure you keep a record of these insights—you could generate an automated report to see feedback trends.
Incorporate urgency into your follow-up messages when appropriate. Highlight limited-time offers, discounts, or special promotions that can incentivize the prospect to take action sooner rather than later. This makes it less likely that they’ll be a no-show. However, be genuine and avoid creating false urgency.
Utilize customer relationship management (CRM) software or calendar tools to automate follow-up reminders and streamline your process. This ensures that no prospect falls through the cracks and helps you stay organized and efficient in your follow-up efforts—which is all part of delivering superior customer service.
Implementing effective sales follow-up techniques is crucial for reducing the risk of a no-show. The right follow-ups help you maintain engagement, build relationships, and increase your chances of closing deals.
By personalizing your communication, providing timely and valuable information, and utilizing multiple communication channels, you can stay front of mind and demonstrate your commitment to meeting the client’s needs. When they recognize the benefits of doing business with you, they’ll be keen to meet.
As we’ve found out, persistence in follow-up is important, but it should be balanced with respect for the prospect's time and decision-making process. By continuing to evaluate and adjust your follow-up process based on metrics and feedback, it will help optimize your approach and improve your sales outcomes. Good luck!
Jessica True is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a virtual PBX system and modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Here is her LinkedIn.